TIME’s Obama Interview: On Popularity, Partisanship, 2008′s Promises
MICHAEL SCHERER: What is your message for the independent voter who supported you from Ohio or Iowa in 2008 because he thought you could change the tone in Washington, change politics? Did you do something wrong? And why will the next four years be different?
BARACK OBAMA: The message I have for them is no different than the message I have for the rest of the country, which is, I ran for office to not only deal with a looming economic crisis but also reverse a decade in which middle-class families had seen their security erode.
And everything I’ve done — most of the time in cooperation with Congress, but sometimes working around Congress — has been geared toward that central goal of making sure that we have a strong, vibrant, growing middle class and we got ladders of opportunity for people who are willing to work hard to get into the middle class.
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That’s what the Recovery Act was about. That’s what saving the auto industry was about. That’s what health care was about. And for those who were hoping that Washington would be more focused on dealing with the problems that everyday Americans face, as opposed to party politics, I’m one of those people.
And I still believe that that’s what the American people are looking for: solving problems. What I’ve tried to do is to take ideas from everyone — Democrats and Republicans — that I thought would make a difference in the lives of working families. That’s why the Recovery Act — a third of it was tax cuts, traditionally an idea Republicans supported. That’s why our health care bill relies on private insurance and why it looks so much like Governor Romney’s health care bill.
So what I’m trying to do is to take the best ideas from either party, with one criteria, one filter, and that is: Is this helping to grow the middle class, build the middle class and create ladders of opportunity for people? And hopefully, voters recognize that not only has that been my priority over the last four years, but it’s going to be my priority over the next four years.